As the COVID-19 crisis hit in March and Humber College decided to close its campuses, many students living on residence began to pack up their belongings and move out. However, there were some students for which moving out was not an easy or immediate option. Some struggled to find alternate living arrangements on short notice, had summer plans that fell through, or came from abroad to study and found it difficult or dangerous to return home.
There are more than a dozen students who have remained on residence at Humber’s North campus since the closure. These students have a roof over their heads and are provided with round-the-clock support by professional, live-in Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs), but the challenges of living on residence amidst a pandemic are unique.
Students often struggle to make ends meet as they need to cover tuition, accommodation and other costs. Many also struggle with food insecurity daily. Those on residence during the pandemic may also have limited time and ability to shop for, cook and eat healthy and nutritious meals. This can impact how they budget for food, and the choices they have in the quality and quantity of food they eat.
Fortunately, Humber College and Easton’s Group of Hotels recognized that students faced an unprecedented situation and teamed up to provide support.
Easton’s Group recently launched Project Kindness, an initiative to provide food and other supplies to retirement homes, assisted living facilities, shelters and other organized living arrangements during the COVID-19 crisis. On a recent afternoon in May, they supplied meals to Humber students on residence, providing three meals to each participating student by delivering them right to their door.
“Project Kindness was launched to bring people hope, love and kindness during a time when light is needed most,” says Reetu Gupta, president and CEO of Easton’s Group. “I was truly hoping this kindness would spread and bring people happiness. Humber College is a fantastic institution, and it is my honour to be able to help.”
On the day of the delivery, staff wore face masks and gloves when delivering food. Meals were well-packed and were easy to store in the industrial kitchen on residence. Physical distancing protocols were implemented during the pickup of meals and students were happy with the great variety of meal choices.
Students who received meals from Easton’s Group were happy to share their gratitude, including the following messages:
“I am very grateful for the meal delivery program. It had a positive impact on me because it made me feel less alone. In difficult times, it makes a big difference to know that others have your back. The food was very good and made with care.”
“The meals were wonderful! It tasted really good, much better than the frozen food I usually eat. Thank you for this meal delivery program and the time it took to bring it over!”
“I like the meals and I appreciate how they were able to deliver meals even in a difficult time like this. I’m grateful that they thought of us and made this opportunity possible. I liked the food.”
Programs like this immediately support students by helping to save money that can be used to cover other urgent expenses. They provide quality, nutritious food and relieve stress by reducing the need for planning, cooking and prepping. Most importantly, considering the struggles these hard-working students have recently faced, it also provides a much-needed peace of mind and lets them know they are not alone.
Humber has a close relationship with Easton’s Group, an organization that supports Humber students through internships and career development opportunities. Easton’s Group representatives often serve as guest speakers in the classroom and are participants in the GTHA-Humber Hotel Management Leadership program in collaboration with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association.
Easton’s Group itself is no stranger to the challenges created by the pandemic. Hospitality and tourism has been one of the hardest-hit industries, with many hotels in Canada closed and those still operating experiencing single-digit occupancies. Throughout these challenges, Easton’s Group has still found an opportunity to be hospitable and give back.
Humber College is deeply grateful to Easton’s Group of Hotels for their support of Humber students, especially during a time that is so difficult for students and the entire Humber community. “As we navigate our new normal, some things remain – kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity,” explained Kristy Adams, Professor and Program Coordinator for Humber’s Hospitality – Hotel & Restaurant Operations Management program. “At Humber College, we are building future leaders who will remember the importance of these qualities as demonstrated by Easton’s Group of Hotels and CEO Reetu Gupta.”